Friday, December 28, 2012

2013: A New Beginning

Due to being tied up with my own projects as well as the general insanity that occurs from Thanksgiving to New Year's, SpecFicPick has been on hiatus. But, with the beginning of a new year, we are back and looking forward to delivering great new speculative fiction content!

There will be some changes going forward. From now on, we will no longer post separate Book Features and author interviews. They will now be combined as Author Spotlights. See the Submission Guidelines for more details.

I have also removed the review requirement for submissions. I know how much some authors struggle to get reviews of their work. Now, a sample reading alone will be used to determine whether or not the book will be accepted. Although I cannot vouch for the quality of each and every book featured, I hope that by reviewing the samples I can ensure that a high standard is maintained and that readers looking for books via SpecFicPick will not be disappointed.

One final note: when, in the future, we are closed to submissions, please do not send them in anyway. From now on, submissions received when we are closed will be deleted unread. That being said, submissions for reviews and articles are now open. Submissions for Author Spotlights will reopen on January 5, 2013. Once again, see the guidelines here.

Best,
Michael K. Rose

Monday, November 19, 2012

Holiday Hiatus

Hello, all! SpecFicPick is going on temporary hiatus for the holidays. There are some book requests outstanding, so if you've sent one in and haven't heard back you'll be getting a reply when we go live again in January. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and Christmas!

Best,
Michael K. Rose

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Book Feature: Datafall by Rich Larson

In Datafall: Collected Speculative Fiction, seven shorts by Rich Larson range from far-flung space opera to near-future noir, sinister steampunk to mind-bending time travel, and darkly humorous to subtly thought-provoking.

"The Garden" pits a weary technician against a starship AI with delusions of divinity while the fate of a colony planet hangs in the balance. In "Every So Often," Victor has been living in the past for a long time—his job is to murder anyone who might try to alter it. In "Memory Cathedrals," a star footballer whose career has been cut short by injury decides to sell his memories...but that's not all he's doing with them. "Loopholes" takes us to the 22nd century, where a wealthy murderer has found a new way to dodge the law. But Klaus Barbier, part-time reamer addict and full-time homicide detective, has never been above bending the rules himself. In "Back So Soon," a bored businesswoman is determined to add someone interesting to her life—and she seems to have hit the jackpot when a shell-shocked colonist returns to Seattle, Washington, Earth. "Factory Man" visits the steampunk city of Colgrid, where a young soldier returns home to find that corpses are no longer wasted on caskets. In "Datafall," the titular tale, Solomon and his father take their technology out of hiding and await the Cloud.

Datafall: Collected Speculative Fiction contains over 10,000 words of hard-hitting sci-fi by an up-and-coming young author and contains six original cover illustrations by artist Christopher Ruz.

Available at:

Rich Larson was born in West Africa, has studied in Rhode Island, and currently lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he recently received the 2012 James Patrick Folinsbee Prize for Creative Writing. His novel Devolution was a finalist for the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, while his shorter work appears in AE: The Canadian Science Fiction Review, Word Riot, Monkeybicycle, >kill author, Prick of the Spindle, The Molotov Cocktail, Underwater New York, YARN, and many others. You can connect with Rich at his website or via Facebook.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Book Feature: The Wrong Sword by Ted Mendelssohn

For a thousand years, Excalibur has been the sword of heroes. Unfortunately, its new owner isn't one.

Henry of Sanbruc, medieval smartass, makes a pretty good living selling "magic" swords to gullible knights. When he's forced to steal the real thing from the Chapel Perilous, his troubles are only beginning. For Excalibur is not just the sword of heroes...it’s also the sword that won’t SHUT UP. It communicates with its owner, it knows what kind of owner it deserves, and Henry doesn't even come close.

To keep Excalibur and the world safe from the appalling Geoffrey Plantagenet, Henry will have to masquerade as a knight, crash a royal wedding, rescue a princess, break a siege, penetrate the secrets of the Perilous Brotherhood, and find Excalibur’s rightful bearer, all while trying to reach an accommodation with a snotty, aristocratic hunk of steel that mocks him, takes over his body, and keeps trying to turn him into the one thing he hates most...a hero.

Available at:

Please visit the author's website for more information.

After studying history at Columbia, fantasy at the USC School of Cinema-Television, and juvenile behavior in film industry, Ted Mendelssohn (or the man who calls himself Ted Mendelssohn) was ideally suited to write The Wrong Sword. He is a resident of New York and not cynical at all.

You can connect with Ted at Facebook or Twitter.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Book Feature: The Story in the Stars
by Yvonne Anderson

Though heirs to an ancient, cosmic feud, he must save her life—and she must save his soul.

Ancient Gannah was well on the way to taking over the whole galaxy, until the people of Karkar engineered a virus that stopped them in their tracks. Now, eight centuries later, the plague has struck again. When the League of Planets receives the distress signal, Karkar-born doctor Pik is ordered to find a cure, despite his hatred of the whole Gannahan race. By the time he arrives on Gannah, it’s almost too late; Dassa is the only survivor. And she has a mission of her own.

Dassa and Pik survive a pirate attack, unsafe starcraft, food poisoning, vicious beasts, and a plane crash. But the hardest part is enduring one another’s company. The Creator who wrote the story of redemption in the stars has commanded her to share it with her reluctant savior. That’s not all He expects of her, but the rest is unthinkable.

" If you love fantasy, sci fi, adventure, romance or all of the above, don't hesitate to buy this book. It's the best I've read in a long, long time." - Amazon Review

Available at:

Formerly a legal secretary, Yvonne works part time as a Virtual Assistant but spends most of her time on the planet Gannah researching her books. She serves as contest administrator for Novel Rocket, named four times to Writer’s Digest list of the 101 Best Websites for Writers. She also shares a few wise words on her personal site at www.YsWords.com. You can connect with Yvonne at Facebook and Twitter.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Book Feature: Contract of Defiance by Tammy Salyer

In a few hundred years, the Algol system becomes humanity’s new home. The question is: is it a better one? When a crew of arms smugglers botches their latest job, Corp-deserter and crewmember Aly Erikson is separated from her brother—the only person in the system she trusts—and left behind to fight for her life. In the aftermath, as she tries to piece together what happened, a crew of desperate settlers pressgang her into a dangerous mission in the heart of Corp territory. With her enemies closing in, time is running out to get back everything she’s lost: her crew, her brother, her options. But no one is taking her gun.

Winner of the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold contest for best action/thriller in 2010, and Finalist in the Kindle Book Review Best Indie Books of 2012 contest for science fiction.

“Meet the toughest gal in the galaxy and arm yourself for a riveting quest on the galactic fringe in Contract of Defiance by Tammy Salyer; an Amazon average rating of 4.8 stars.” - The Motley Chronicles

Available at:

Tammy Salyer won her first writing contest in the second grade and has been word-nerding ever since. As an ex-paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division, her writing is often as gritty as a grunt’s pile of three-week-old field gear. Contract of Defiance is a hit with scifi fans worldwide, and its followup, Contract of Betrayal, will be out in Spring 2013. Several of Tammy’s short stories also appear in horror and literary magazines. When not hunched like a Morlock over her writing desk, she works in behavioral-science research and runs and bikes the foothills of Colorado.

You can connect with Tammy at her website or Twitter.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Book Feature: House and Garden by Deb Victoroff

Elise, a socially awkward professional single woman finally buys a piece of real estate – a house with a garden – which she feels she can shape to her own desires. Her need to control her surroundings, her fatal flaw, will never be directed to a human partner. Instead she turns her energy toward taming nature.

An odd-looking real estate agent has sold her the parcel after the previous owners have abruptly abandoned the house, a bungalow with a creepily over-grown garden. As Elise attempts to weed and groom her property, it seems to fight against her. Bugs bite her, thorns pierce her, gardening tools are ripped from her hands and mysteriously disappear.

She feels the dislike of the townsfolk toward the city people who keep buying up the countryside only to domesticate it to city tastes. Are they behind the creeping dangers that assault her at every turn? Or is there some larger malevolent force in play?

“…The tension and fear crawl right under your skin...along with all the other creepy crawly creatures. Terrific fun and terror.” - Amazon Review

Available at:

Please visit Musa Publishing for more information.

Debra Victoroff is a writer with eclectic interests. She has written several short plays that have appeared in regional theatres around the country. In 2009, her play “Letter From A Soldier” took second place in the New Works of Merit Play Competition in NYC, and was performed at the Vancouver, British Columbia Fringe Festival.

Debra also writes a monthly Horoscope parody for the women’s online humor magazine Happy Woman Magazine.

You can connect with Debra via Facebook.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Book Feature: Born of Blood by SB Knight

The Blood Chronicles is a series of three books chronicling the life of one family as they struggle to survive while an unimaginable evil pursues them relentlessly. 

In Born of Blood, the first book of the series, Jesse Banks unknowingly steps in the middle of a battle between good and evil that has raged on for generations. As the danger escalates she begins to put the pieces of her clouded past together.

Jesse discovers the truth about her ancestors and the horror that relentlessly pursued them; a horror that now pursues her. For her to survive she must join the fight. But the immortal monster that stalks her has other, more sinister plans and will stop at nothing to see those plans accomplished. Can Jesse escape a fate worse than death and defeat an age old evil?

"Our author, S.B. Knight has given us one of the most wicked and evil vampires to grace the pages of a novel." - 5-Star Review

Available at:

Since the release of his debut novel, Born of Blood, SB Knight has worked diligently to establish his name in the writing world. Having completed two more novels, it is clear there is no end to the stories in SB Knight’s mind. With even more novels planned there is little doubt SB Knight feels right at home in the Dark Fantasy genre.

You can connect with the author at his website, Facebook or Twitter.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Book Feature: Piggy Moto, All-Star Boar Band
by Nicholas McRae

Piggy Moto, All-Star Boar Band is a grown-up fable that takes a look at life, prejudice, and equality. It tells the story of Eberhard Berringer, a Pig of uncommonly diminished stature. He must rise above the indignity of the unfair reputation that Pigs have in the world and must also overcome the natural challenges imposed by dwarfism. Eberhard and four friends have entered an international music competition with the hopes of changing the world's unflattering views of their people. If their quintet can take the prize, then they will prove to the world that Pigs are not all slovenly beasts, and that little people can accomplish great things. Someone involved with the contest is not interested in fairness, however. An anonymous saboteur stalks and harasses the contestants, and as pranks turn bloody, Eberhard and his friends fear that the fight for social equality might cost them their lives.

Available at:

For more information please visit http://www.piggymoto.com/.

Nicholas McRae's life revolves around fantasy and imagination. He studies music, takes clarinet lessons, builds stained-glass, and covers the walls of his home with his own carved fretwork designs. All of these skills and hobbies work to transform mundane life into something magical. Nicholas reaches out to share his sense of daily wonder through storytelling, and hopes to inspire others to look for inspiration in the world around them. His favorite place to write is in the upper balcony at symphony concerts, where the music most stirs his emotions and inspires him.

You can connect with Nicholas at his websiteFacebook or Twitter. Also be sure to read the SpecFicPick interview with Nicholas here.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Interview: Nicholas McRae

Today we have an interview with Nicholas McRae, author of Piggy Moto, All-Star Boar Band. Nicholas McRae's life revolves around fantasy and imagination. He studies music, takes clarinet lessons, builds stained-glass, and covers the walls of his home with his own carved fretwork designs. All of these skills and hobbies work to transform mundane life into something magical. Nicholas reaches out to share his sense of daily wonder through storytelling, and hopes to inspire others to look for inspiration in the world around them. His favorite place to write is in the upper balcony at symphony concerts, where the music most stirs his emotions and inspires him.

***

Michael K. Rose: What role do you believe speculative fiction plays in society?

Nicholas McRae: I think that it legitimizes our human instinct to ask, “what if?” It's so easy to get caught up in the belief that reality is something to be accepted without question—that speculation and wonder lead to discontentment and unrest. Works of speculative fiction remind us to daydream and indulge our intellectual curiosity. While each novel, podcast, or television show shares the writer's own ideas, these don't tell us what to think; they tell us that it's good to think.

MKR: Why do you write in this genre?

NM: I write fantasy. I especially like to project the world in which we live into worlds of fantasy—wondering how things would take this familiar shape in a magical universe. How do people travel? How do they cook? What sorts of cocktails do they make? What about medicine and health care in a world where magic is real? Most importantly, though, how familiar would this world be to us? Would it be too alien to survive in, or would we find it so similar to our own that we'd quickly acclimate?

MKR: How did you come up with the idea for this book?

NM: Piggy Moto, All-Star Boar Band began as a role-playing adventure that satirized “reality television” shows such as Project Runway and American Idol. During the story, players hunted for clues to find and stop the man responsible for a series of bloody attacks on contestants. They also listened to musical selections that represented each act, and voted for which ones to advance, and which to “boot off” the stage. I had so much fun telling the story, that I decided to novelize it for my first year participating in the National Novel Writing Month. For a twist, though, I wrote it from the perspective of one of the bands rather than that of the detectives.

MKR: What was your biggest challenge in writing it?

NM: The biggest challenge was definitely revising the story to make it more meaningful. When I finished the novel, I wanted it to be more than just a novelized role-playing game. I wanted to say something about the real world and give readers something to think about. I consulted a man who told me about his own life as a Little Person and shared great insight into the challenges that little people face in this world. I realized that I had a lot of work ahead of me, and ended up almost completely re-writing the whole novel after that.

MKR: What are you working on now?

NM: Right now I'm working with a couple of editors to get my next manuscript polished up and ready to send out to agents and publishers. This one is set in modern times and deals with alienation, isolation, and faith amid the breakdown of reality as we know it.

***

You can connect with Nicholas at his website, Facebook or Twitter. Read more about Piggy Moto, All-Star Boar Band here. Also be sure to visit tomorrow as Piggy Moto... will be our SpecFicPick Book Feature (update: read it here).

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Art Feature: The Fantastic Art of Maurizio Manzieri

Today I have an interview with Maurizio Manzieri, a fantastic artist of all things fantastic. Maurizio is an award-winning freelance illustrator renowned in the field of the fantastic literature. The Art Studio where he dreams up his Universes is a small oasis in the heart of the town of Turin, Italy, near the Alps.

Maurizio's artwork has appeared on the covers of the most prestigious magazines and books of leading Italian and international publishers: Mondadori, La Repubblica, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Asimov’s Science Fiction, Putnam/Berkley, Prime Books, Subterranean Press, and many others.

If you want to know more about the artist, visit his official website at www.manzieri.com. He has also opened a Facebook page, where he posts new images for the fans his digital creations.

***

Michael K. Rose: Was there any defining moment when you realized you wanted to be a fantasy/science fiction artist?

Maurizio Manzieri: I was born in Naples, one of the most enchanting cities on Earth, under the shadow of the volcano Vesuvius, exploring the ruins of Pompeii and visiting the islands of Ischia and Capri. My career as a fantastic artist is strictly intertwined to my land and to an avid passion for speculative ideas, enjoyed through any kind of medium, from books to TV series, from movies to comics. It's a distinctive deviation in my chromosomes, imbued with that special air of my places. It says aloud in the back of my head: "You are a fantastic artist!” I couldn't think to be anyone else, without betraying my true self.

MKR: When you are commissioned to create a piece of art, do you prefer to get a lot of details from the client or do you prefer to let your imagination fill in those details?

MM: It depends on the type of assignment. In the case of editorial commissions, I prefer always to read the full story before daring to materialize any sketch on paper. As a rule, it's already the publisher forwarding a copy of the manuscript, or fat synopses, together with the assignment. Take note that the more the story is important to or inspired by a renowned saga, the more fundamental it is to take into account the respect for the fans (you see, I've always been a fan myself). Characters and environments have to be deeply coherent to the text and emotionally linked to the readers.


Pictures from an Expedition by Alex Irvine – Digital – 
(The Magazine of Fantasyand Science Fiction, USA, 
2003 / Spectrum, The Best in Contemporary Fantastic
Art, USA, 2004)
MKR: Do you have a favorite piece?

MM: We artists try always to improve ourselves, so I keep working day after day toward the favorite one. Anyway if I should choose a particular painting, I'd say I'm really fond of a cover I realized for Fantasy & Science Fiction about ten years ago, titled "Pictures from an Expedition" (a novelette by Alex Irvine). My astronaut conquered a full page in Spectrum, The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art, and in the same year I won both the Europe and the Chesley Award with other illustrations.

MKR: Are there any artists who you look to for inspiration? Was there anyone who you sought to imitate when you were first developing as an artist?

MM: It isn't a secret that my idol has always been Michael Whelan. I consider his paintings pure sense-of-wonder! Over the years, I've been enriching my studio library with art books by Michael Parkes, Gil Bruvel, Jim Burns, Bob Eggleton, James Gurney... all of them offering in their body work not only the fruition of a beautiful painting, but also some impalpable essence of beauty, something able to touch the soul of the viewer like a sort of subliminal message, something I've been trying to do, too.

MKR: What has been your proudest achievement as an artist so far?

MM: I'm a self-made artist with a very optimistic vision of life. Talking again about my wish of becoming an artist, one thing is wishing something to happen; another is seeing that wish happening for real. I see myself in the seventies as a young student fond of Ray Bradbury, and today that student has changed in a grown-up fully immersed in the local and national community of artists. My proudest achievement, more than an award or a huge fee, is having the skill to be able to freeze feelings in an image created from the scratch, then unleashing that image out in the world and letting the Art speak for Herself to the heart of a vast audience.

MKR: Thank you so much for the interview, Maurizio! Readers, check out more of his work below and at his website and Facebook page.

***

Five Thrillers by Robert Reed – Digital – 2009 Chesley Award Nominee
(The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, USA, 2008)

L├ízaro Y Antonio by Marta Randall – Digital – 2008 Chesley Award Nominee
(The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, USA, 2007)

Briony, Princess of Shadowmarch – Digital - 2003 Chesley Award Nominee
(Asimov’s Science Fiction, USA, 2011)

Dune by Frank Herbert – Digital – (Interior illustration for La Repubblica XL, Italy, 2012) 

Steambridge – Digital – ('The Year's Top Ten Tales of Science Fiction #4”,Infinivox, USA, 2012) 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Book Feature: A Human Element by Donna Galanti

One by one, Laura Armstrong’s friends and adoptive family members are being murdered, and despite her unique healing powers, she can do nothing to stop it. The savage killer haunts her dreams, tormenting her with the promise that she is next. Determined to find the killer, she follows her visions to the site of a crashed meteorite–her hometown. There, she meets Ben Fieldstone, who seeks answers about his parents’ deaths the night the meteorite struck. In a race to stop a mad man, they unravel a frightening secret that binds them together. But the killer’s desire to destroy Laura face-to-face leads to a showdown that puts Laura and Ben’s emotional relationship and Laura’s pure spirit to the test. With the killer closing in, Laura discovers her destiny is linked to his and she has two choices–redeem him or kill him.

“Galanti’s debut is a thrilling ride full of believable characters, a terrifying villain, an epic battle for survival, and a love worth killing for. A page-turner filled with fascinating twists and turns!” - Marie Lamba, author of What I Meant and Drawn

Available at:

For more information, please visit the author's website.

Donna Galanti the author of the paranormal suspense novel A Human Element (Echelon Press). She is a member of International Thriller Writers, SCBWI, and Horror Writers Association. She’s lived from England as a child to Hawaii as a U.S. Navy photographer. If she couldn’t write she would bike, hike, and kayak every day. Donna lives with her family in an old farmhouse in PA with lots of nooks, fireplaces, and stinkbugs but sadly no ghosts. You can connect with her at her website, Facebook or Twitter.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Book Feature: Kransen House by Sara Brooke

The Kransens live in an expensive, elegant home in the small town of Flening, Florida. Majestic and private, the grounds are surrounded by lush trees and colorful flowers. But there is an ugliness underneath the manicured and perfect facade... Secrets hide within the walls and curses whisper through the air.

Newlyweds Ben and Ana Kransen are moving into the house with their in-laws. They’ve got high hopes and expectations for a better life. But soon after they move in, strange things start to happen. Noises fill the air, dark rooms unlock nightmares of the past, and it becomes clear that some people are not welcome in the Kransen House. Their lives are infiltrated by death, evil, and an unspoken religion. Ana knows something is wrong and her family is in danger. Left with few choices, she must find a way to save the ones she loves or face the consequences of an evil legacy.


Available at:

For more information, please visit the author's website

Sara Brooke is a horror and suspense novelist living in South Florida. A lifelong avid reader of all things scary, Sara's childhood dream was to write horror books that force readers to sleep with their lights on. Sara's influences and favorite authors include Bentley Little, John Saul, William Blackstone, and Joe McKinney. You can connect with Sara at her website or on Facebook. Also be sure to read our interview with her here.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Interview: Sara Brooke

Today's interview is with Sara Brooke. Sara is a horror and suspense novelist living in South Florida. A lifelong avid reader of all things scary, Sara's childhood dream was to write horror books that force readers to sleep with their lights on. Sara's influences and favorite authors include Bentley Little, John Saul, William Blackstone, and Joe McKinney.

Her first novel, Still Lake, was released in the Spring of 2012. She is presently working on her third novel.

***

Michael K. Rose: What role do you believe speculative fiction plays in society?

Sara Brooke: It plays a large role, serving as an escape from non-fiction and to be honest, from the mundane doldrums of life. Speculative fiction gives the reader an opportunity to be immersed in another world. It has always been a respite for me personally, so when I am creating different worlds with different characters, it is a unique pleasure to know that others will soon be entertained. Nothing pleases me more than when readers share their own personal thoughts in reference to one of my novels.

MKR: Why do you write in this genre?

SB: I love horror! It is what interests me. Hence, I write about what I enjoy. That's not to say that I don't enjoy dramas, romance or comedy, but I prefer to read about the horrific. Bentley Little is one of my favorite authors. His tales of terror are fantastical experiences that take the norms and systematically change them to the macabre. Some of my novels emulate that theme. It is quite amazing how quickly "normal" life can shift with just a few tiny changes in the world.

MKR: How did you come up with the idea for Kransen House?

SB: I've always loved a good haunted house story, but the best ones are where the people inside are more horrific than any of the "ghosts in the halls." Being a fan of Gothic suspense, I applied those principles to Kransen House. It really turned out the way I'd hoped despite taking different twists and turns that weren't anticipated when I began writing it. Many readers shared with me that it was a fascinating, horrific journey for them and that they couldn't stop reading until the end, anxious to know how it would all turn out.

MKR: What was your biggest challenge in writing it?

SB: There are scenes in the book that are truly uncomfortable, particularly from a woman's standpoint. Let's just say there are some really bad people in it. But in order to ensure that the story was believable, I had to touch upon topics that are difficult to swallow. Still, that is reality, isn't it? There are people in this world who don't follow the same rules as you or I. And, combining that with a touch of the "haunted" makes the story a tad more delicious.

MKR: What are you working on now?

SB: My third novel. I've posted some teasers about it on http://www.sarabrooke.com/. I'm also part of a new anthology entitled New Flesh, Old Bones, which contains short stories from newer authors like me and other more well-known writers like Joe Lansdale. My short is an interesting creepfest about a Goldfish named "Doug." I hope readers will check it out.

***

Kransen House is available for Kindle (Amazon US, Amazon UK) and Nook. You can connect with Sara at her website or on Facebook. Also be sure to visit tomorrow as Kransen House will be the SpecFicPick Book Feature. Update: read it here.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Interview: Craig McGray

Craig McGray is a new author who has just published The Somnibus: Book I, the beginning of a paranormal horror trilogy. Craig lives on the east coast of Florida with his wife, Andrea, and two beautiful daughters, Emma and Chloe. He works as an administrator for an oral and maxillofacial surgical practice in Daytona Beach, Florida. If that wasn't enough, he's also a triathlon athlete and many of his thoughts and ideas come to him during those quiet times while running, biking, or swimming.

Today, I am very pleased to present this interview with Craig, conducted in August via email.

***

Michael K. Rose: Your newest release, The Somnibus: Book I, is a horror/paranormal thriller. What drew you to that genre?

Craig McGray: Well, I've always enjoyed reading the genre. It was only natural that when I started writing, I wrote those kinds of stories. Even as a kid, my stories were along those lines. I often wrote stories and kept them to myself. Part of it was the lack of belief in myself as a writer, and another part was the content. Even when I was young. I would creep myself out sometimes when I wrote certain stories. I find myself fighting the urge to put a twist of horror in everything I write, so I guess my answer is, it feels natural to me. It's usually appropriate for the type of stories I write, but when I'm writing with my daughter (Emma is 8) it's better if I keep the premise of the fairy in our story boring into the little girl's brain through her ear and making her do bad things, to myself.

I enjoy reading things that scare me. When I have someone tell me that my story was scary, as in they had to leave the lights on to go to bed, I am thrilled. To me that is the biggest compliment I can receive. Well, there are others, but that's for a different interview. ;-) I am experimenting with stepping out of my comfort zone and writing in other genres. I was surprised to find that I am beginning to enjoy that aspect of my writing. Maybe it's my ripe old age of 40, but I think I just like doing something new; learning new things.

MKR: Do you believe in anything paranormal, or is it all fiction to you? And if you do believe, have you ever had a paranormal experience?

CM: I work in the medical field, so I believe in science. I also know there are things that science can't explain. Personally, I have never had anything happen to me that I thought was paranormal in nature. I do enjoy hearing the accounts of others that say they have experienced it, but I think it's the result of an overactive imagination more than anything. Now, do I think those people are lying? Absolutely not. I think they truly believe they had a paranormal experience. Well, some of them may be lying just to get attention. I'm also not saying I want to go stay the night in some abandoned asylum or anything, though I would if the opportunity came up, but I have yet to see any real proof that haunting, or ghosts, exist. I think loved ones do somehow visit those they've left behind. My daughters have both told me things that I believe about that, but that may be a different discussion.

In other words, I guess I believe in some things paranormal, but since I haven't seen it myself, I would put an asterisk next to the believe part. As far as haunted houses and the like, I don't buy it. I think our mind is very strong and plays tricks on us sometimes. I get creeped out by watching the movies, but not because I think it's real or could happen to me. With that being said, if I actually did experience an attack from a ghost, or I saw something in a haunted house that I thought was a ghost, I would probably need a new pair of shorts after I ran out like a teenage schoolgirl.

MKR: As a marathon runner, I'm sure that your training would serve you well as you ran out screaming like a schoolgirl. Now, The Somnibus series is about a young man named Michael who learns that he possesses, via a mysterious stone that belonged to his mother, the ability to access a shadowy other world where creatures called the Somnibus exist and from which he can actually enter into the bodies of other people. You mention there are things science can't explain, and as Clarke famously said, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Are you approaching your story from a purely fantastical point of view, or could there be something of science (parallel worlds, for example) behind it? You've mentioned in another interview that you are a fan of Lovecraft and for me, the most remarkable thing about his writing is that in many of his stories he is able to take seemingly supernatural events and ascribe scientific explanations to them. Without giving too much away, is this a possibility you're going to explore with the rest of the series?

CM: Yeah, my triathlon training would definitely have me out of there before anyone else. What do they say about avoiding Zombies, "You don't have to be faster than everyone, just faster than someone." or something like that. Anyway, as far as The Somnibus series goes, it is based on fantasy. The world I want to create with the series could be nothing but fantasy. As my answer may have pointed to earlier, I don't think there are any in between worlds, or other dimensions that we are going to find, at least none that science has shown yet. Now, other worlds as in other planets, I do think that will happen, eventually. That's probably more your area of expertise, but I do believe the science fiction of today may be the reality of tomorrow, or maybe a couple hundred tomorrows from now.

MKR: The Somnibus is your first major project as a writer. I know how exciting it is to get that first major work out to the public. I also know the doubts and fears that accompany that. So what do you hope will come of it? What is your goal as a writer, where do you want it to take you? You've mentioned being worried about how others will receive your work. What other fears do you have?

CM: Great question. I guess I just hope I can create stories and worlds that people enjoy reading about. I know that seems like a cookie cutter answer, but it's true. I haven't come into this with some great expectations of being the next Stephen King, James Patterson, or Michael K. Rose (though I wouldn't run away from the label). I just want to put out stories that people can read and be satisfied with when they are done. Reading is time consuming, so if I'm fortunate enough to have someone spend their valuable time reading my book, then I don't want them to feel like it was a waste of time. Time is a limited commodity, and I understand that.

As far as where I hope to go as a writer, honestly I'm not sure. I plan to write stories that I like to read, and see where it takes me. Of course I want to sell a few books, but that's not the main reason for my writing. I have a full time job to pay the bills and that's my first priority behind my family. Much like my stories, I have a loose outline for myself when it comes to writing. I'll let life and readers help to put me on the right path. That, and I'd love to walk into a bookstore and see one of my covers staring at me and my family from the shelves.

Fears. Let's see. I don't like to say I'm scared of anything. However, I'm not a big fan of roller coasters, or spiders. It's not that I'm worried about being attacked by spiders or anything, they just give me the creeps for some reason. I don't mind snakes, or any other animals or insects, just not a fan of spiders. I'm getting better with roller coasters to some degree. My 8-year-old Emma is getting into roller coasters, which I have never really enjoyed. I get through it by acting like it's no big deal, like any tough guy dad would do, but I secretly hope she changes her mind sometimes. A more serious fear is the fear of something happening to my kids. I don't know how parents deal with a true tragedy or illness when it comes to children. Sorry to bring down the tone of the piece, but it's a legit fear for me.

MKR: The Somnibus will be a trilogy, correct? Do you have your next project planned? Do you think you might continue The Somnibus beyond those first three books?

CM: My plans when starting The Somnibus series was to have a trilogy when it was all said and done. As I'm working through Book II, there may be more story to tell. I'll just have to see where the characters lead the story, and what the readers want.

I am also working on a collection of short stories. I love writing the short stuff, so I always have a few of those going at the same time. Sometimes, if I'm stuck on one project, I'll go back over some unfinished work. That may get me through my block, or I might put more work into the shorter story. It just depends on the mood.

I have this premise for a sci-fi type project that I can't stop coming back to. I haven't put much down yet, but I think I'll have to start it. It keeps tapping on my forehead, wanting the story to be told. That project will be a large project and take a considerable amount of time, I think. We'll just have to see with that one. I may need a little science-fiction creative direction. I've heard of this kick ass writer, Michael K. something, I think. You ever heard of him?

MKR: Haha! I may have. Care to give us a teaser on what that science fiction story will be about?

CM: Well, when aliens try to take over the earth, there's always this big battle with violent aliens. I think there are smarter aliens out there, aliens that could rid the earth of humans without destroying everything in their path. They are more patient in waiting for us to be gone. The characters have to figure out a way to undo what the aliens have done before it's too late to recover and the human race is no more. Here's a hint, it's not a disease that threatens to rid the earth of humans.

MKR: It sounds intriguing! Thank you for your time Craig. Anything else you'd like to mention?

CM: I'd just like to thank you for the great interview. I'd, also like to thank you for all of your help and support. It's nice to know that there are authors out there willing to help each other out. I hope to release The Somnibus: Book II by late fall, and my collection of short stories before year end. Maybe I'll make it a creepy Christmas time release. Thanks again for the fun interview.

***

You can connect with Craig at his website, Facebook or Twitter. The Somnibus is available at Amazon's Kindle stores (US, UK).

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Book Feature: Outsystem by M. D. Cooper

Someone is out to stop the GSS Intrepid, an interstellar colony ship, from being completed on schedule and beginning its journey to 82 Eridani. When anti-colonial activist groups are suspected, Major Tanis Richards, an officer in the field of military intelligence and counterinsurgency, is brought onboard to hunt them down.

A public disgrace Tanis suffered at the hands of the military has motivated her to leave Sol and start a new life elsewhere. She soon discerns that more than simple activist groups are arrayed against the ship and its crew. There are corporations and governments that have a vested interest in ensuring that the Intrepid never leaves the Sol system.

Tanis tightens security and fights political red tape while running up against assassins and mercenaries sent to the stop her and the Intrepid at every turn. The new friends and relationships she forges strengthen her resolve to protect the ship and keep its crew and colonists safe as they endeavor to head outsystem.

“Michael Cooper's Outsystem is exactly what one would expect of a science-fiction novel, and more! The militaristic theme and subtle romance gives Outsystem enough to appeal to a wide variety of readers.” - Amazon Review

Available at:

For more information, please visit the author's website.

Michael Cooper has been writing since the day he closed The Return of the King and wanted more. After writing a lot of fantasy he decided to try his hand at science fiction and has published one book, Outsystem, and is working on the sequel, A Path in the Darkness.

When not writing stories or code, Michael is spending time with his wife and daughter, or doing carpentry--a hobby which he has been growing over the years.

His other interests include astronomy, cars and racing, blacksmithing, movies, and just about any creative work one can do. You can connect with him via his website, Facebook or Twitter.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Book Feature: Perchance to Dream by Peter Lukes

Manuel Corr is the best of the best in the Sub-Net unit of the Boston Police, where he invades the dreams of criminals to unearth potential crimes. He's fearless where his work is concerned, until one night when the dream world collapses around him. Now trapped in a dreamscape he can no longer direct, Manuel must try to fight his way back to reality.

But the road back is more dangerous than he realized. The tables have been turned; criminals are running the Sub-Net, and the world of dreams he'd once patrolled is a nightmare he cannot escape from.

Unless he can unlock the conspiracy behind who's manipulating the Sub-Net, Manuel may be trapped forever. The criminal world is trying to recruit him for their side, and refusal means death. Can Manuel claw his way back to the reality he remembers? Or will the dream world become his new reality?

Available at:

Peter Lukes grew up in Massachusetts, where he also went to college, law school and graduate school. Peter is an attorney who frequently teaches classes in history, political science and government as an adjunct faculty professor at local colleges. His true passion lies in writing the kinds of science fiction and fantasy stories that he loved reading throughout his life. Peter still lives in Massachusetts with his wife and son, who have both been indoctrinated into the worlds of spaceships, vampires, super heroes and dragons.

You can connect with Peter at his website, Facebook or Twitter. Also be sure to read our interview here.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Interview: Peter Lukes

Today's interview is with Peter Lukes, author of the science fiction novel Perchance to Dream. He grew up in Massachusetts, where he also went to college, law school and graduate school. Peter is an attorney who frequently teaches classes in history, political science and government as an adjunct faculty professor at local colleges. His true passion lies in writing the kinds of science fiction and fantasy stories that he loved reading throughout his life. Peter still lives in Massachusetts with his wife and son, who have both been indoctrinated into the worlds of spaceships, vampires, super heroes and dragons.

Michael K. Rose: What role do you believe speculative fiction plays in society?

Peter Lukes: Speculative fiction offers the reader a believable escape from reality. In addition to the obvious entertainment value, the specfic landscape can also potentially provide the reader with a meaningful reflection on themselves, society, or life in general, without being "preachy." The complex and imaginative settings of speculative fiction camouflage any resemblance to our actual surroundings, thereby providing some cover for a greater philosophical message. Exceptional science fiction has achieved this end for a long time, and now speculative fiction seems to be taking readers on an even greater journey of possibilities, while simultaneously making important statements about a world view, (from Dune to The Road to The Hunger Games). I think that because so much of science "fiction" has turned into reality over the past thirty years, people are more inclined to suspend their limits of belief, and this allows writers more leeway for stories of travel to parallel worlds, magic realism, and other fantastic incorporations that might have been scoffed at by mainstream readers (and publishers) years ago as being too far "out there."

MKR: Why do you write in this genre?

PL: It's the genre that I enjoy reading the most, so it was a natural fit. Since I first read The Chronicles of Narnia when I was a wee-lad, I've been hooked on speculative fiction. I'm an avid science fiction and fantasy reader as well, but if I can mix it up and make it work with a little paranormal here, and a little sci-fi there, with a touch of alternate reality, it's the best of all worlds!

MKR: How did you come up with the idea for Perchance to Dream?

PL: I've kicked around the concept of dream invasion and alternate reality travel for years. It went through so many changes and re-formations that it's hardly where I started, but the story definitely improved at each step along the way. It's a complicated world and we barely peel away the first layer in Perchance to Dream. The sequel is on its way, but there will still be much more revealed as we go.

MKR: What was your biggest challenge in writing it?

PL: Keeping track of everything. When you design a complicated environment, it has to work, even if it's technically or scientifically "impossible." There have to be explanations, limits, and rules, even if it's based in magic. The writer is required to provide a basic set of guidelines for how this world operates, and things just can't happen willy-nilly in favor or against your protagonist. Therefore, everything has to add up and be consistent from chapter one through the final sentence. At the same time, you don't want to bore the reader with exposition regarding how or why things are happening the way they are. Consistency is the key and a slow trickle of information adds to the suspense.

MKR: What are you working on now?

PL: I'm in the final editing stages for a new title being released in January 2013 called The Dominus Runes. It takes place on an alternate Earth that's been conquered and divided up by a demonic family from another dimension. The demons are on the verge of war with each other, and the only guy who can save humanity happens to be an underworld crime boss anti-hero.

I'm also currently writing the sequel to Perchance to Dream. It's almost finished and I'm hoping for a July 2013 release date.

MKR: Thank you for your time, Peter! Readers, you can get Perchance to Dream at Amazon US, Amazon UK and Barnes & Noble. You can also visit the author's website for more information. Please see our Book Feature of Perchance to Dream.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Book Feature: Iara by Caroline Sloan

Iara is a fantasy adventure that blends traditional mythology and folklore. The central theme is that Iara, a legendary supernatural being, is embodied in the form of a seemingly ordinary human, who happens to have no idea of her special status. Mara is a modern young woman who lives in New Zealand with her boyfriend, Sebastian. After a sequence of disturbing dreams and visions connected with underwater beings and prowling jaguars, she travels to Canada to visit old friends and seek solace from her nightmares. Whilst in Canada Mara falls in love with an Algonquin native called Jesse and is drawn into the life of his tribe. As the story progresses Mara learns that she is actually the reincarnation of Iara, the legendary half serpent and half human figure from Brazilian folk lore. Iara is intent on seeking revenge for the loss of her love Boiuna, who (it turns out) is Jesse. This discovery reawakens Iara's passion, strength and protectiveness through Mara.

Available at:

More information can be found here.

During her childhood, Caroline travelled extensively with her family and lived in the UK, Germany, USA and Canada. Caroline joined the Royal Navy prior to receiving an honours degree in Archaeology. In 2006, she made the decision to move to New Zealand where she bought a farm.

Caroline's books are based on her own experiences - places she has visited, countries that hold special memories, friends she has made on her journeys. Writing enables Caroline to use the knowledge and understanding gained through her degree studies to create stories based on ancient cultures and civilisations.

Caroline now lives in Berkshire, UK. You can connect with her via her website, Facebook or Twitter.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Book Feature: Resounding Echo by Michelle Louring

The battlefield of angels and demons is no place for a human....

For nearly 6 years, Selissa has lived a almost peaceful life at the temple, but she has no memories from the time before the priests took mercy on her. All she has from her past life are a strange symbol on her back and fearful dreams. It's only when the mysterious traveler Alassane arrives at the temple that her lost memories come back to haunt her. Soon, Selissa finds herself fighting for her life and comes to know that no one is what they pretend to be.

Resounding Echo is the first book in Angel's Voice series, which takes place in the world of Sinaria, a country devout to the worship of the Archangels. It's a story filled with demons, angels, sorcerers and magic, but also warriors and common thugs just fighting to survive.

Available at:

Michelle Louring was born and raised in Denmark, but soon after learning the English language as a child, it quickly proved superior to her native language. English books started to replace Danish ones, and soon it also became her preferred language for writing. This love, combined with a fascination with creating stories, evolved into a desire to write novels.

You can read more about her and her work on her website and also connect with her via Facebook and Twitter.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Book Feature: Imperfect Weapon by AB Potts

The universe contains an infinite diversity of sentient life forms. The Sallows intend to rectify this. Genocide is their business, slaughter and mass destruction their entertainment. Constantly engineering and evolving their vast army of androids, they are developing their ultimate Warrior—the Destroyer Series Mark-I (Espion). A blend of blood and machine, this new prototype looks humanoid but is driven by software and programming. It processes data and is ruthless in its pursuits. Trained as a Warrior and programmed as a spy, it will walk amongst the alien species, infiltrate and destroy. There's just one problem. Their prototype is just a kid—and like any other kid, he's got a bit of an attitude problem.

As Kylem reaches adolescence, he begins to question his Sallow masters. From the prisoners onboard the DaerkStar, he is learning about humanity and begins to realise that he's just a bit too human to be either an android or a Sallow. Suddenly, he is unsure of who or what he is, and there's worse to come.

The Sallow Empire is at the dawn of a new era with Sallows plotting against each other for ultimate control over the Empire. Caught up in the conflict, Kylem is oblivious to the role he is to play in their plans and, unbeknownst to them all, the major part he is to play in changing the fortunes of the Empire forever!

"The unlikely hero is a humanoid-android cross called Kylem and the way this adolescent character is developed really made me empathise with him. In fact all the characters are believable and "real", so much so that I completely accepted the reality of an alien race, living aboard a starship the size of a small planet and cheerfully immersed myself in their world." - Amazon Review

Available at:

More information can be found here.

Born in the 1960s, AB was considered an academic child but was more likely to be found daydreaming than studying. The daughter of a publican, she was left to her own devices of an evening, so the TV played an important part in her childhood. Documentaries, films and dramas alike fueled her imagination, from Journey to the Centre of the Earth to The Man from UNCLE, Tomorrow's World to James Bond, each only served to encourage her. When the first episode of Star Trek hit the small screen in 1969, it didn't just spark her imagination, it set it ablaze!

You can connect with AB Potts via her website, Facebook or Twitter. You can also read our interview with her here.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Interview: AB Potts

Today's interview is with AB Potts, author of the science fiction novel Imperfect Weapon. Born in the 1960's AB was considered an academic child but was more likely to be found daydreaming than studying. The daughter of a publican, she was left to her own devices of an evening, so the TV played an important part in her childhood. Documentaries, films and dramas alike fueled her imagination, from Journey to the Centre of the Earth to The Man from UNCLE, Tomorrow's World to James Bond, each only served to encourage her. When the first episode of Star Trek hit the small screen in 1969, it didn't just spark her imagination, it set it ablaze!

Michael K. Rose: What role do you believe speculative fiction plays in society?

AB Potts: Without it, we'd invent nothing and go nowhere. It inspires us to create and embark upon voyages of discovery and adventure. Leonardo de Vinci brought us the hang glider and helicopters, Jules Verne the television and spacecraft, and Columbus sailed to the Americas. As writers, we may not be able to unravel all of the technical details—that's what scientists are for—but the creators of speculative fiction certainly play a part in putting the ideas into their heads. Have you never noticed the similarities between the flip phone and Uhura's communications headset, the eReader and the datapad? Transparent aluminium was introduced to us by Gene Roddenberry in 1986. It became a reality in 2009.

But it's more than that. Just like the annual vacation, a little trip into the world of fiction is just as therapeutic. When we read, we become immersed in the story and are transported to another world. How often do we finish a book and, rather like the end of a great vacation, wish it hadn't ended? We yearn for a sequel, a return trip to that little bit of escapism that gave us so much pleasure the first time around.

MKR: Why do you write in this genre?

ABP: It wasn't a conscious choice. I didn't just sit down one day and say to myself, 'I know, I'll write science fiction'. It's just that is where it was set when the story was born.

As for the stories themselves, they amaze me. Again, I don't make conscious decisions about the storylines; they're just there, waiting to be told. As I write them, they unfold before me. I can be in the middle of a chapter, something will happen and I'll suddenly stop and say, 'Wow! I didn't see that one coming!' Then I'm really worried because I can't see a way out of the situation for the character, but there's no need. Strangely, the story continues to unfold, almost flawlessly, to a resolution. It's an amazing process!

What I will say is this, though: it is nice to write science fiction because all sci-fi has a secondary genre. It could be a children's story, a romance, crime, horror or whatever. Science fiction merely states... well, it depends who you ask... set in another time or place, maybe a world of high technology or a prehistoric alien world. As I often say, at what point does the alien monster with a wingspan of over forty feet become a dragon or, for that matter, a pterodactyl?

The world of science fiction is far closer than you think, anyway. Mountains in vivid hues of yellow, blue and red exist in China, barren deserts turn purple with scorpion weed when they flower, and the Namib desert golden mole doesn't look upon the world at all. It looks like a little eyeless hamster. Our world is already a world of science fiction. How do I know that what I am writing is not already science fact?

MKR: How did you come up with the idea for Imperfect Weapon?

ABP: In all honesty, I have no idea! They just come to me. I have memories of Kylem going back to when I was just five years old. Every night I would fall a sleep and dream a new adventure. I don't know where he sprang from or why. He just came to me and then he stayed.

Over the years, Kylem's adventures have grown and the stories have evolved; he, though, has changed very little over the years. It's just that the detail has become more vivid. His tales are many and varied and I'm about thirty years ahead of the rest of the world in his adventures. That's why it is the first book in a series; the tale just doesn't end there. Just like life, there are many twists and turns and there are no happy-ever-afters. That sounds really sad, but it's a fact. Even as a child, I questioned that closing sentence at the end of every story—and they all lived happily every after.

My favourite faerie tale was Cinderella, but I always wondered what happened after the wedding. I just couldn't accept the concept that they married and that was it; that life went perfectly for them from that day on until their deaths. My mind was plagued by questions like, did they stay happy, did they have children or was she barren? And as I got older, the questions got wilder.

Was Prince Charming really that charming? Was he a wife beater? Did he stay faithful or did he abandon Cinderella for a younger woman? If they had children, were they perfect or did one get in with the wrong crowd and end up with a criminal record? Did Prince Charming smoke pot? Was their son gay?

I was about ten years old when I asked my mother some of those questions and told her about my stories. I can't remember the exact response but I did learn one thing: that, for the time being at least, I should keep such things to myself.

MKR: What was your biggest challenge in writing it?

ABP: Time! It's not just the writing, but the proofing and editing that's necessary in order to present a product that's as polished as one produced by a bestselling author. Needless to say, there's also the marketing, blogging, Tweeting and Facebook statuses that need attention. Add to the mix that I'm the senior partner in a business, a full-time bookkeeper, a wife, mother and dog owner, not a minute in the day can be wasted. Every second is precious.

MKR: What are you working on now?

ABP: The second book in the series. Entitled Black Dog, Kylem has arrived on Earth and he's causing as much mayhem here as he did on the DaerkStar! It's a little more light-hearted than Imperfect Weapon because he's not under the constant threat of death, and he's still finding himself. Remember, he may look like an adult but he's still just a kid, really. The third book is also taking shape, but I shan't say too much about that for fear of spoilers!

MKR: Thank you for your time! Readers, if you would like to read Imperfect Weapon, you can get it at the US Kindle store, the UK Kindle store or Barnes & Noble's Nook store. You can connect with AB Potts via her website, Facebook or Twitter. Imperfect Weapon will be tomorrow's Book Feature. (Edit: read it here.)